Former captain Ricky Ponting has admitted that batsman David Warner and Steven Smith’s reintegration into international cricket will be a hefty challenge.
Warner and Smith are nearing the ends of bans from Test, ODI and T20I cricket, after being involved in the ball-tampering saga that marred the tour of South Africa.
They have not been named in the squad for this month’s limited-overs series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, but will likely be recalled for Australia’s World Cup campaign in the United Kingdom later this year.
‘I’m sure this would have been talked about at a higher level for a long time – how do we integrate them back in? How do they fit in? How is it all going to be seamless? But the hardest part for those guys is going to be the public perception of us, especially in England,’ Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“They’re coming back into a World Cup in the UK – they shouldn’t be expecting too many pats on the back over there. They’re going to cop it everywhere they go. They’ve got to know that, they’ve got to accept that and understand that. The team needs to as well, because that could also be something that could be unsettling for a team.
‘I think they are well equipped to handle the scrutiny, but I think it could be a shock for them by the same token when they come back. They have to expect the absolute worst, and then anything better than that is going to be a bonus for them. That would be the way I would approach it if I were them.’
Ponting will be assistant coach to head coach Justin Langer at the World Cup. Australia won the World Cup in 2015, 2007, 2003, 1999 and 1987.
‘If Warner and Smith are scoring runs and the Australian cricket team is winning, it’ll be a whole lot easier,’ added Ponting.
‘If it’s the other way round, and they’re not scoring runs and the Australian team are losing, then it’s going to be hard. That’s where there’s a great challenge there for all of us – not just for them, but for all of us coaches and everyone in that squad of 15 – there’re going to be some great challenges, but ones that I’m looking forward to.’